Who: England vs New Zealand
Where: Narendra Modi Stadium, Ahmedabad, India
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When: Thursday, October 5, 2pm (08:30 GMT)
If the opening match of the 2023 edition is anywhere near as thrilling as the 2019 final, the tournament will be off to a grand start in the cauldron controversially named after India’s current prime minister.
In terms of the squads, not much has changed from 2019 as both have retained most of their core group of players. However, England’s blue-eyed boy of limited-overs cricket and World Cup-winning captain Eoin Morgan has been replaced by his then-deputy Jos Buttler. Meanwhile, New Zealand’s captaincy has temporarily been overtaken by Tom Latham as Kane Williamson recovers from an ongoing knee injury.
New Zealand will hope to win the title that has eluded them in the previous two finals while England will look to stamp their authority on the game as they try to become only the third team after the West Indies and Australia to defend their title successfully.
While the Blackcaps will sorely miss their captain and most prolific batter, the team will not be short on confidence, having recently beaten Bangladesh in an ODI series.
They will also miss the services of veteran fast bowler Tim Southee, who continues his recovery from thumb surgery.
“No Kane and no Tim as well,” stand-in captain Latham said ahead of the opener.
The big news out of the England camp is that Ben Stokes could sit out due to a hip injury.
Buttler said he’d rather not take a risk by playing Stokes if he’s not fully fit, given the length of the tournament.
“It’s not the time to take big risks at the start of the tournament. It’s going to be a long tournament,” Buttler said at his pre-match press conference.
Head to head
No ODI match between these two opponents can come close to beating the drama of the 2019 final, but they have met on 95 occasions in the ODI format, and England are ahead on the wins tally by one.
England have 45 wins compared with New Zealand’s 44, four matches did not yield a result and two were tied – one being the 2019 final, which was decided by a tiebreaker of boundaries scored.
England head into the tournament on the back of two series wins, one of which came against New Zealand.
Meanwhile, the Kiwis also start the World Cup with a series win in the subcontinent against India’s neighbours Bangladesh.
England: W W W W W
New Zealand: W W L L L
Here are the predicted lineups:
England: Buttler (captain, wicketkeeper), Jonny Bairstow, Dawid Malan, Joe Root, Harry Brook, Liam Livingstone, Moeen Ali, Sam Curran, Chris Woakes, Adil Rashid, Reece Topley
New Zealand: Devon Conway, Will Young, Henry Nicholls, Daryl Mitchell, Latham (captain, wicketkeeper), Rachin Ravindra, Matt Henry, Mitchell Santner, Lockie Ferguson, Ish Sodhi, Trent Boult
Source: Al Jazeera